The importance of Golden-Point in Backgammon
Welcome to this comprehensive guide on mastering the art of Backgammon, where we delve into the strategic significance of the 5-point – a pivotal area on the backgammon board. In virtually every backgammon resource, you'll encounter the terms "golden point" or "most important point," referring to either the 5-point or the 20-point. Coined as the golden point in the 1970s by backgammon legend Paul Magriel, this title was initially associated with the 20-point (opponent's 5-point). However, both points hold considerable intrinsic value in the game, with some writers even dubbing the 5-point as the golden point and the 20-point as the golden anchor.
But let's transcend the semantics and truly grasp the importance of holding these key points. Together, the 5-point and 20-point stand as the paramount strategic positions on the board, conferring substantial advantages upon the player who controls them.
The opening moves of a match often witness an intense struggle for control over the 5-points. This is because the benefits of establishing and retaining the 5-point, or alternatively the 20-point, tend to outweigh the risks associated with moving more checkers backward.
Figure 1: Backgammon 5 Points
The 5-Point: A Strategic Nexus
- The 5-point, in conjunction with the 6-point, forms the foundation of an effective prime that thwarts the opponent's efforts to move their back checkers within your home board.
- While the 6-point is initially secured, it's crucial to seize the 5-point at the outset. In the early stages, it's often worth the calculated risk of slotting the 5-point. If your piece is hit (blot), remember that you have ample time to recover. Slotting serves as a valuable tactic to construct prime positions.
- Nestled deep within your home board, the 5-point, along with the 6-point, acts as a formidable barricade against your opponent's re-entry attempts from the bar. For example, when your opponent rolls high numbers (6 or 5), they'll struggle to re-enter and consequently squander a significant number of pips.
- Ideally, the 5-point becomes part of a broader 6-prime or a closed board that confines the opponent's checkers. The 5-point, together with the 6-point, serves as the optimal starting point for establishing this strategic configuration.
- If your opponent manages to establish an anchor in your home board, it will typically be situated ahead of your home board points, offering you a favorable strategic position.
The 20-Point: Undermining Your Opponent's Strategy
- Holding the 20-point presents your opponent with a tougher challenge in constructing an effective prime against your checkers, in contrast to leaving the checkers on the 24-point.
- The 20-point acts as a secure landing zone for your checkers in case they are sent to the bar.
- Offering extensive coverage of the outer board, the 20-point creates opportunities to hit advancing opponent checkers.
- Having an additional checker on the 20-point grants you the chance to mount an offensive on the outer board without compromising the secure position in your opponent's home board.
- Knowing precisely when to relinquish control over the 20-point is pivotal. Your back checkers should be well-positioned, and you should be confident in your ability to win the race without being hit before considering the risk of breaking the 20-point.
Acquiring one of the 5-points early in the game is a strategy that rarely leads astray. The exceptions, if any, are so infrequent and offer such marginal advantages that prioritizing the 5-point remains a solid choice. When in doubt, set your sights on the 5-point.
You can find the Backgammon rules at this link.